President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that his administration will take decisive actions against propagators of hate speech and other divisive materials on the social media.
Buhari issued the warning in his 59th Independence anniversary speech. He said even though his administration recognises the rights of Nigerians to freedom of speech and expression, it would not hesitate to take actions when these rights threaten national security.
The speech reads in part, “In the past four years, the majority of Nigerians have committed to change for the better. Indeed, this administration was re-elected by Nigerians on a mandate to deliver positive and enduring Change – through maintaining our national security; restoring sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development; and fighting corruption against all internal and external threats.
“This change can only be delivered if we are united in purpose, as individuals and as a nation. We must all remain committed to achieving this positive and enduring change. As I stated four years ago, “Change does not just happen… We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust… simply put, to bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.”
“Good governance and economic development cannot be sustained without an enabling environment of peace and security. In the last four years, we have combatted the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram. We owe a debt of gratitude to our gallant men and women in arms, through whose efforts we have been able to achieve the present results. We are also grateful to our neighbours and allies – within the region and across the world – who have supported us on this front.
“The capacity of our armed forces to defend our territorial integrity continues to be enhanced by the acquisition of military hardware as well as continued improvements in the working conditions of our service men and women.
“The Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security. My recent assent to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act has created a legal framework to support our police with increased fiscal resources to enhance their law enforcement capabilities.
“These initiatives are being complemented by the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Nigeria Police Force. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to arrest the incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes across our nation. We remain equally resolute in our efforts to combat militant attacks on our oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta and accelerate the Ogoni Clean-up to address long-standing environmental challenges in that region.
“The recent redeployment of the Niger Delta Development Commission from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs underscores our commitment to enhance the living standards of our communities in the Niger Delta, through coordinated and appropriate programmes.
“Our attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.”